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REACTION: 'Haven't seen tries like that my whole career' - Chiefs skipper stunned as Drua fall just short of epic upset

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28th May, 2022
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The Chiefs had an almighty escape against a hard finishing Fijian Drua to secure a top four finish and home quarterfinal in Super Rugby Pacific.

In front of a heaving home crowd, the Fijians scored three tries in the last eight minutes but fell just short, 35-34. Afterwards players from both sides linked arms in a circle and sang together, putting the seal on an epic contest and the Drua’s first season in Super Rugby.

While that was going on Chiefs skipper Brad Weber was graciously lauding his hosts and warning that the team which will likely finish 11th will be a much bigger force with more games at home in years to come. This season, Fiji played just twice on home soil and were based in NSW.

The Chiefs were cruising with 20 minutes to play before the hosts staged a remarkable comeback that left Weber shaken.

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“I thought we’d played our one and only get of jail free card against the Rebels a couple of weeks ago – it turns out we’ve got two,” Weber said.

“It’s relief more than anything. Hats off to the Drua, the last 10 to 15 minutes they were just unbelievable. I haven’t seen tries scored like that in my whole career. It feels incredibly lucky to get out of that one.

“They were fantastic tonight, I feel for them because in a funny way they probably deserved it

“They had everything, They had all the momentum and we just managed to make that one play in the end and I’m proud of the boys.”

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Weber said it would be a testing place for teams to visit in future.

“This is their first season and you look at the type of rugby they’re playing,” Weber said. “It goes to show they made the right decision to bring them into the competition and in a few years this is going to be a seriously tough place to play – especially for New Zealand teams at this time of year.

“In Hamilton it’s about one degree this morning. Come over here and it’s about 30 degrees and heaps of humidity.”

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As with several other times during their first season, bad mistakes cost the Fijians and the final play saw them get too close to the sideline and pushed across it when they threatened a famous victory.

The result moved the Chiefs third ahead of the Brumbies, who will regain that place with a win over Moana Pasifika later Saturday.

Drua coach Mick Byrne said his team came into the season lacking the required fitness to make an impact on the table, but they would not have that excuse next year, while more home matches in front of their passionate and noisy support would give a massive boost.

“Just having the crowd there at the end, hearing that noise, the excitement they had, lifted the boys at the end. At halftime we were sitting in there, iced towels on their heads, and to finish like that I couldn’t be more proud of them.

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“We knew once we got home we would be amongst our family friends and it was going to be a big difference and now we’re looking forward to next season and bring it to Fiji for half the season.

“It’s disappointing we didn’t get this across the line for them.”

The hosts gifted the Chiefs a second half try – that turned out to prove the difference with an undiciplined attempt to keep a ball from sailing out that was regathered and led to a try on 52 minutes from Emoni Narawa that seemed to ice the game.

“All year we’ve been trying to work towards getting the clinical part of our game right,” said Byrne.

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“We saw at the end that throw the ball around we can do that. We’ll continue to work on our strength and conditioning.

“Our boys came in, they hadn’t played since October 2020. They knew they weren’t fit enough for Super Rugby but they go there eventually. That’s a big area of improvement and I’m really looking forward to seeing this team when they are Super Rugby fit.”

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